What Really Happens When Two or More Christians Gather?
I have exchanged pots and pans from our cookware set at least three times. We got the set as newlyweds, and it came with a 10-year warranty. If I burned the pasta and ruined a pot, I could exchange it for a new one. It was a remarkable deal.
Even more remarkable, though, are God’s promises – like this one, that’s often overlooked:
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matt. 18:20).
This is a promise from Jesus about when he will grace us with his presence. It is a guarantee; we can count on it. And what is the condition for this promise? When two or three are gathered in his name.
Let’s break this down to feel the full impact:
1. Jesus promises his presence
Why is this a big deal? Well, because there is no greater place to be than in the presence of God. The psalmist says in Psalm 84 that a day in God’s courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. We were created to be in God’s presence; it’s where we feel most at home and most alive. In God’s presence, people are healed, made whole, made glad, filled with joy, and purified. At the culmination of all things, we will all be with him, unhindered, forever. The best thing about heaven, John Piper often says, is that God is there. There is nothing our minds can conceive that is worth more.
2. When the people gather
God’s presence is technically everywhere, and always within believers. But there is a special aspect of his presence that is only experienced when the Church gets together. This is why corporate worship is so important. Whether it’s a small group of Christians gathered in homes in China, 100 gathered in a rural church in the U.S., or thousands gathered at an outdoor service, God shows up.
3. In his name
God does promise to bless his people with his presence when they gather, but not just any gathering. He is present when we’re gathered in his name. This is important to note because sometimes we gather together as believers, but for lots of other names. It could be our own names if we’re frustrated that we’ve been overlooked in the Church for our contributions. It could be the name of our theological tribes, our stylistic preferences, or our political parties. There are a lot of “names” that compete with Jesus’s name in our hearts as we get together. As we gather together, let’s examine our hearts and check those other names at the door.
Isn’t it great to know that we can count on God to fulfill this promise? I know I’ve personally experienced the goodness of God’s presence when I’ve gathered for worship with his people, and I have a strong suspicion most of you have as well. So this week, as you’re thinking about whether or not to make the trek to a church service or meet with your Small Group, remember that no matter how busy you feel or how many other things you’d rather do, there is something better available, and it’s guaranteed!